Back in 1959, I was a lawyer working in the trust department of a huge Chicago bank when, for no special reason, I made a weekend retreat at a suburban Franciscan retreat center. While on that retreat, I firmly believe the Holy Spirit moved me. The compelling thought was: “If Jesus Christ was the Son of God who came among us as one of us and suffered, died, and rose from the dead, then what he had to say to us, and give to us, was of supreme importance.” I knew then and there that I wanted to be a priest and bring his presence, power, and above all his love to others. Previously, I had suffered some terrible losses and was wrestling with questions about the goodness of a God who allows such pain, the presence of evil in our world, and wonderments about the meaning of life. Because of my own questionings, I knew I could help others deal with theirs.
A priest, it seems to me, is called by Christ to bring his loving and caring heart to our broken world and to those broken by the trials and sufferings of this world. There are times when we don’t have answers, times when the only answer that makes any sense is Christ’s love, care, compassion, and concern manifested in his own suffering. Reality is both harsh and glorious. The glorious gift of a priest is to be a part of bringing order out of chaos, meaning out of absurdity, good out of evil, love for the loveless, and life out of death. The gift a priest gives to others is wrapped in the Mystery of Christ. This is particularly so when we discover that the heart has reasons of which the mind does not know.